On January the 20th, 2009, we coordinated a massive journalistic project to document Barack Obama's inauguration. More than 100 observers from around the world sent in detailed chronicles that documented a bickering mother and daughter on the Washington Mall, punks dancing at a night club in New Zealand, an apathetic Iraqi rugby player and two Blackwater contractors drinking at a bar in Jordan, and many more scenes that captured the spirit of the day.
Predicatbility and punditry defined most of the media coverage of Obama's inauguration. By asking observers to notice minutiae and seeming trivialities instead of the dominant storyline, we hoped to cut through our culture of staid soundbites with a revealing and surprising narrative. Thanks to an unexpectedly diverse and talented group of observers—1st graders in Colorado, a U.S. Army officer near Tikrit, a Kenyan journalist in Kisumu, to name just a few—we think the project exceeded its goals.